Modi, in an imperial style, will be in Gujarat tomorrow 17 Sep inaugurating the Sardar Sarovar dam on his birthday. And as he does this, he is signing a warrant for utter devastation drowning more than 40000 families living in the submergence area of Sardar Sarovar Dam in Madhya Pradesh. Also, the water being released from other dams to fill the Sardar Sarovar is resulting drowning of thousands of families, houses, bridges, cattles, trees and large tracts of forest and prime agricultural land. Nothing could be more shameful than the sight of an elected Prime Minister forcing a celebration of his birthday on the edifice of destruction of lives and livelihoods of our people. Continue reading
The Rohingya people of Myanmar are facing a genocide and ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Myanmar Army. The Rohingya (the majority of whom are Muslim) have lived in the Rakhine State (Arakan) in Myanmar for the past several centuries. But a racist Citizenship Law enacted by Myanmar in 1982 denies the Rohingya people citizenship by refusing to recognise the Rohingya as one of the “national races.” The Rohingya have been subjected to several rounds of genocidal violence that have forced them to flee to Bangladesh and India. Continue reading
RSS ideologue and BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav, in a piece titled “Coming full circle at 70” in the Indian Express on Independence Day(15 Aug 2017), argued that for the first time in 70 years, India’s rulers are in tune with the “core ideology” of India’s people. His piece argued that “Jawaharlal Nehru represented the colonisers’ view, while Gandhi became the voice of native wisdom” and emphasis on “village life in India” and that the Modi Government finally reflects Gandhi’s views rather than Nehru’s. The piece claimed that “The crucial formative years after independence were thus dominated by a western liberal discourse that had very little Indian content,” and that “for the first time in 70 years, the idea with a reference point in India’s genius has become the dominant idea under Prime Minister Modi. Just as Nehru never shied away from exhibiting his fascination for western ideas, Modi is ever ready to wear quintessential Indian ideas on his sleeve.” The piece concluded “The liberal unease is palpable. Their plight is best described by Edward Luce in his book through a less-used Greek word demophobia — fear of the mob. The mob, humble people of the country, are behind Modi. They are finally at ease with a government that looks and sounds familiar. They are enjoying it.” Continue reading
The Government claims to lack funds for education. Is that true?
JNU, well known for its inclusive character and academic excellence, sustains itself with government funding of about Rs 170 crores per year. In the year 2016-17, government sops to super-rich corporates, through exemptions in corporate tax were to the tune of Rs 83,492 crores. Had the Government made corporates pay their taxes, the amount could have funded 491 affordable and good quality Universities like JNU! Continue reading
It is ordinary citizens from all over the country whose determined challenge to the Central Government’s efforts to violate privacy and demand revelation of data under Aadhaar that led to the landmark Supreme Court judgement upholding right to privacy as a fundamental right.
The Government of India as well as various BJP ruled states argued in Court that citizens do not enjoy a right to privacy; that the poor do not need privacy; that citizens do not have a right over their own bodies; that the Constitution made no mention of privacy.
The Supreme Court verdict demolished these arguments and upheld the right to privacy as a fundamental right. It affirmed that the right to privacy is not “granted” by the Constitution; rather every person is born with this right which the Constitution recognizes and affirms.
In response to the Central government’s argument that privacy is an “elitist construct”, the verdict responded: “Every individual in society irrespective of social class or economic status is entitled to the intimacy and autonomy which privacy protects. The refrain that the poor need no civil and political rights and are concerned only with economic well-being has been utilised though history to wreak the most egregious violations of human rights.”
The verdict made it very clear that the right to privacy is the citizen’s protection against the State’s authoritarianism: “Fundamental rights are the only constitutional firewall to prevent State’s interference with those core freedoms constituting liberty of a human being. The right to privacy is certainly one of the core freedoms which is to be defended.”
After the verdict, the usually talkative BJP leadership went silent; and then, even as Modi remained silent on it, BJP leaders like Ravishankar Prasad began to claim – contrary to govt.’s own written submissions and arguments in the court- that they had always stood for right to privacy! At the same time, former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi who argued against right to privacy in Court, have gone to the extent of suggesting that the verdict can also be seen as a case of “judicial overreach”!
The BJP Government, in response to citizens who opposed Aadhaar, said that data mining under Aadhaar was valid since the right to privacy was not a fundamental right. Now that the right to privacy has been upheld as a fundamental right, BJP leaders are all trying to claim that since fundamental rights are subject to reasonable restrictions, right to privacy too is “not absolute” and is subject to restrictions!
This remarkable and historic verdict has many aspects that give fresh meaning and relevance to the Constitution. One of its most significant aspects is that it reviewed and corrected the Supreme Court’s own flawed judgments – upholding the Emergency and upholding Section 377 that criminalises LGBT persons.
The verdict affirms, “Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual.”
The verdict also affirms, “I do not think that anybody would like to be told by the State as to what they should eat or how they should dress or whom they should be associated with either in their personal, social or political life.”
This has a direct bearing on the Constitutionality of laws under which BJP Governments have been justifying the raiding of private homes to search for beef; and attempts to ban the consumption of beef or slaughter of animals. Earlier, the Bombay High Court gave a verdict striking down sections 5(d) and 9(b) of the Maharashtra Animals Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995, which criminalised and imposed punishment on persons found in possession of beef of animals, slaughtered in or outside the state, on the ground that it infringed upon a person’s “right to privacy”. The Maharashtra Government has challenged this in the Supreme Court arguing that right to privacy is not a fundamental right. Now after the latest SC verdict, this claim stands demolished.
In upholding the right to privacy, the verdict also safeguards the right to dissent and diversity: an immensely significant thing at a time when the BJP Government is seeking to brand every opinion, every practice, every taste that is not in tune with the “majority” view to be anti-national and criminal. The verdict makes it very clear that the Constitution safeguards the right of citizens to hold their own views and opinion and sexual, cultural, and dietary practices even if the majority does not approve of them. The verdict is a reminder that democracy is not about the rule of the majoritarian mob but about the securing of the rights of minorities and dissenters.
The implications of the verdict for Aadhaar are huge. No longer can the Government sustain its right to indiscriminately and mandatorily demand the revelation of data as a precondition to access their wages, their rations, their pensions. Just as the Emergency sought to take away the right to privacy and place citizens’ lives under state surveillance, so does Aadhaar – and the SC verdict has now put a spanner in those works. The Government can no longer justify giving citizens’ private data into the control of foreign and corporate companies. It can no longer justify extracting and using citizens’ private data for the purpose of surveillance and snooping.
Aadhaar is not – as the Government claims – simply a benign use of techonology to facilitate welfare measures. Surveillance technology is intimately linked with fascist and totalitarian projects. Can we forget that during Hitler’s rule, the IBM corporation created machines that served to identify and track Jewish populations across Europe, so that they could be ghettoized, and later transported to concentration camps?
Salute the courage of the two women who filed and pursued the complaint of rape against all powerful Gurmeet Ram Rahim, defying intimidation and death threats. It is their bravery we must thank for the conviction of Ram Rahim for rape in a CBI Court yesterday.
What we cannot forget or forgive is the manner in which the rape-accused Ram Rahim and his Dera continued to get patronage from political powers and Governments.
Ram Rahim was accused of raping two women. The CBI had chargesheeted him. He had arranged the murder of a journalist who reported the rapes. Yet, political parties had no shame in seeking his electoral support – and giving him government funds and patronage in return!
Ram Rahim enjoyed a political relationship with INLD and Congress. In the past several years, he shifted his loyalties to the BJP.
During last few days, why did the BJP Government of Haryana allow lakhs of Ram Rahim supporters to gather and riot in Panchkula? Why did Haryana police “forget to invoke” Section 144?
The answers are clear:
- Top BJP leaders – including Kailash Vijayvargeeya, National General Secretary of the BJP; Manoharlal Khattar, the Haryana CM; and the PM Narendra Modi – sought and received electoral support from the rape-accused Ram Rahim.
- 19 of the 47 BJP MLAs including Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala went to pay tributes to Ram Rahim and thank him for his support in the 2014 Assembly Elections
- At least 3 senior BJP ministers in Haryana – Ram Bilas Sharma, Anil Vij and Grover – have together gifted the Dera Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Rs 1.12 crore!
- BJP Minister Ram Bilas Sharma who helped fund Ram Rahim, said during the riots that “Section 144 imposed in Panchkula did not apply to Dera supporters”!
- BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj, in a blatant display of rape culture, said: “One person has complained of rape against Ram Rahim. Crores others believe he is God. Who do you think is right?”
- BJP MP Subramaniam Swamy tweeted, after the Court ordered the Dera’s properties to be attached to pay for vandalisation: “A new threat to Sadhus: Politicians & ashramites wanting to grab Ashram wealth by sending the Swamijis to jail. Sadhus must groom successors “
- I&B Minister Smriti Irani sought to gag the media covering the riots and in fact blame the media coverage for the riots by Ram Rahim supporters by tweeting: “Drawing attention of News Channels to Clause B of Fundamental Std. of NBSA refraining channels from causing panic, distress & undue fear.”
Today, BJP leaders justify their support by saying a) Ram Rahim was just accused of rape, not convicted and b) they were giving him funds and taking his support because the “Dera does good social work”. Such arguments actually help normalise rape and murder.
Asaram and Ram Rahim were accused of rape of women in their Ashram/Dera custody; and of murdering people to cover up their rapes. Ram Rahim has finally been convicted of rape, and his murder trial is on. BJP leaders like Subramaniam Swamy – with their open support for Asaram and Ram Rahim – are seeking to normalise and trivialise rape and murder.
Sakshi Maharaj of course is suggesting that rape complaints should not be decided by Courts but should be a popularity contest – those rapists who enjoy popular support must be acquitted!
Those political leaders like Modi, Khattar, scores of Haryana BJP leaders who flaunted their closeness to a man accused of rape and murder; Sakshi and Swamy who are openly defending the rapist even after his conviction; and Smriti Irani who is seeking to blame media rather that the BJP Government for the rioting – owe an answer to the people of India.
In 2012, we held the Congress Governments at Delhi and the Centre responsible for a rape and murder.
In 2017, shouldn’t the BJP Governments at Haryana and the Centre be held accountable for publicly supporting a rapist and, after his conviction, allowing his supporters to run riot and besiege two states and parts of Delhi?
Should they not resign?
See More : Signs of our times : “Modi”fied India
Governments Callous To Dying Indians
In the week towards 15 August 2017, more than 70 babies died in a Gorakhpur hospital – their lives choked out by Governments at the Centre and Uttar Pradesh that are more obsessed with proving Muslims to be unpatriotic than caring to ensure oxygen for children in hospitals. UP Ministers claimed that ‘babies die in August.’ Continue reading
- A woman is stalked in Chandigarh – BJP Union Minister Babul Supriyo tweets that it is just ‘boy chases girl’ that happens in both reel and real life( TV 18, Aug 9,2017)! The Haryana BJP state Vice-president Ramveer Bhatti asks why the woman’s father allowed his daughter out at night.
- Few days back, a group of students from JNU and DU were brutally assaulted and a female student in the same group was violently sexually assaulted by a mob in Surajkund. When they went to file complaint at the Surajkund Police Station, the police not only refused to do so but threatened them. The woman student was insulted and intimidated with comments like “Yeh free sex ka culture jail mein karwatey hai” (we’ll show you how to indulge in free sex in jail), “Tera kapda cheena huwa hai ya itna hi hai” (“Is your dress torn or is it deliberately this short?”). It is only after courageous intervention by the students and the JNUSU and timely media reports that FIR has now been filed and some action initiated against the guilty policemen (The Hindu, 18 Aug 2017).
- Kerala HC and Supreme Court pass orders for an NIA probe into a case of a Hindu woman converting to Islam and marrying a Muslim, declaring that a 24-year-old Indian woman must still be in the custody of her father for her own good.
- Meanwhile, there is no probe ordered into the copious evidence of organised violence by saffron brigade outfits against Hindu women who love and marry outside religion.(Operation Juliet: Busting The Bogey Of “Love Jihad”, Cobrapost, 1 July 2016)
- BJP’s UP CM and Sangh poster boy Yogi Adityanath, in an article on ‘Matrshakti,’ repeated the Manusmriti norm that women must always be under the control of the father, husband or son, Further he quoted scriptures to write “uncontrolled, free women who acquire man-like qualities become devilish” (Navbharat Times, 20 March, 2017)!
- In BHU, a Sanghi VC upholds rules that prevent women students in hostels from eating meat or having mobile phones or an internet connection in their rooms. In hostels across the country, women students are subject to restrictions that men students do not face.
- The BJP election Manifesto in 2014 said that ‘factories should be run like a Family’; the RSS chief says that they are ‘familyist not feminist’.
- The RSS women’s wing rationalises domestic violence saying: “Don’t parents admonish their children for misbehaviour? Just as a child must adjust to his/her parents, so must a wife act keeping in mind her husband’s moods and must avoid irritating him.” (Neha Dixit, “Holier than Cow” The Outlook, 28 Jan 2013)
Our coming generations will ask us for an answer, they will ask us, where were you when new social forces were being unleashed, where were you when people who live and die every moment, every day strived for their rights, where were you when there was an assertion of the marginalized voices of the society. They will seek an answer from all of us…
– Comrade Chandrashekhar
Comrade Chandrashekhar, two times JNUSU President, sought these answers through struggles. The struggles that made JNU as one of the most inclusive universities in the country. The struggles that stand tall in their commitment to the future generations and marginal voices. Continue reading
Let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific knowledge. It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has—as is well known—been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior. Continue reading